Without fail, I do not document the things that I cook with regularity. It’s a mental block I have. Among others. But keeping on the subject of things I forget to tell you about, can I just say I have one complaint about being a house-dweller for the first time in like 7 years? SOLICITORS. Holy shit, our house must have a flashing neon “SUCKERS” sign hanging over it. Seriously, once a day, and everything from a random old man trying to sell the Viking parts for his karve to a man wanting to install solar panels (we actually asked him to come back with printed information so we could talk to the landlords about it, but he never returned). We even got the 9am Jehovah’s Witnesses — whom I have a years-honed stash of insults for, but they were old Asian ladies and I couldn’t bring myself to be an asshole. What?! I know, but I was sleepy. I’m sure they count on that.
Okay, so salmon and broccoli. I don’t even know what else to call this, I make it so often. “Weekly salmon.” I like the sound of that.
This week I also made some simple kabocha squash since I had a half a squash going dry and weird in the fridge. I follow Biggie’s instructions over at Lunch in a Box, and I love the way it turns out.
Rustic chunks¹ are sliced and thrown into a pan with some dashi, soy sauce, sugar and sake. The pieces cook in about a half an hour and come out toothsome and lightly flavored.
Kabocha is one of the few squashes I enjoy – I actually have a textural issue with squash, which is nutballs since I basically eat anything that has the misfortune to venture in front of my face. I like oven-roasted squash and I adore tempura-fried squash, but mashed or pureed or otherwise mushy squash makes my stomach flip. And I like that Biggie leaves the skin on the kabocha, which when cooked strongly reminds me of the firm and edible skin around the bottom of a steamed artichoke.
Okay, enough of that foolery. The main show: salmon. I cut the salmon into large bite-size pieces and marinate it in what I call “sweet soy” which is a bottle of basically teriyaki sauce I make in large batches and keep in peanut-butter jars in the fridge. I go through the sweet soy with alarming speed. It’s handy, what can I say. In fact, in Biggie’s kabocha squash recipe, I just pour in a big dollop of the sauce instead of putting the components in individually.
While the salmon is marinating I cook rice and chop up some fresh broccoli. The broccoli is quickly fried in a small non-stick pan (everything will be cooked in this pan), and fried hard. They’re pushed aside into my bowl I’ll eat from later (lazy dish usage is my middle name) (wait, that’s not impressive) and then the salmon and its marinade are dumped into the same pot to cook quickly.
I can make this all mindlessly, which for me increases its deliciousness exponentially. I’ve come some way since my days of my ideal mindless meal of microwaved frozen burritos topped with BBQ sauce and sour cream. Some way.
in the same way that i keep emergency butter, i keep emergency salmon in my freezer. i buy fatty, perfect belly steaks from the asian market in bulk because when salmon is too lean it is nearly impossible to cook well, like any meat.
6 oz. of salmon per person
8oz. broccoli per person (only florets will be eaten)
2 Tbsp. sesame oil
1/3 C. sweet soy (recipe to follow)
rice to serve
- Cut salmon into large bite-size pieces (two-bite size, really) and in a small bowl, marinate with the 1/3 C. sweet soy sauce. Set aside in the fridge while you do other stuff.
- Start the rice cooking and then cut your broccoli into bite-size pieces. In a non-stick saute pan, heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat and then throw the broccoli in. Watch out! I’ll spit and pop. Every minute give the broccoli a thorough toss to keep from over-browning one spot. You want to really scorch those pieces without cooking the broccoli through, so high heat is your friend here.
- When you have some serious color, pour the marinade from the salmon over the broccoli and let it cook for about 1 or two minutes, just enough to saturate the broccoli and to finish cooking it through. It should still be crisp in the thick parts of the florets, but soft and nicely flavored with the soy in the flower parts. Dump the broccoli into a bowl and then place the pot back on the heat.
- Immediately dump in the salmon pieces and gently shake the pan to evenly cook them. DO NOT OVERCOOK. When the flesh in mostly opaque but you can still see some small bits of red on the pieces, turn the heat off. The salmon will continue to cook, but those little pieces cook in literally maybe two or three minutes at most.
- Serve the salmon and broccoli over rice, spooning over some of the sweet soy to moisten the rice.
1 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup sugar (brown is nice)
1/2 cup sake
- Dump it all in a small saucepan and over medium-low heat, bring to a simmer. Cook down for about 5 to 7 minutes, or until the liquid has visibly thickened. Don’t boil it, you’ll cook the sugar too much. Decant into a jar, let cool for about 10 minutes at room temperature, then refrigerate. Will last for weeks.
¹ These are also known as “I Can’t Be Bothered by Knifework” pieces. But “rustic” is easier to type.December 2nd, 2010 | Make It So